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Scott Duncan on Glasgow title, training at Stirling and living life out a suitcase

• 3 MINUTE READ

A two-time ATP Challenger Tour champion, Scott Duncan has been rising up the doubles rankings and celebrated his most recent title on home turf at the Lexus Glasgow Challenger.

The University of Stirling graduate, who trains there at the National Tennis Centre as part of the Scottish National Player Programme, earlier this month reached a career-high ranking of #173 with 11 career pro doubles titles to his name – nine of which he has collected over the past two years.

Reflecting on his victory in Glasgow alongside Marcus Willis, the 29-year-old said: “It was a very special experience. Playing in front of a home crowd is rare and I was delighted to win that one. Doing it in front of my family and friends made it a very special moment.”

Scott completed his undergraduate and graduate degrees at Stirling while playing tennis. He competed for the university in national leagues and was selected by GB for the 2019 World University Games while he worked to develop his pro career.

He recalled: “My time at Stirling was really enjoyable, and I’m still based there which I think reflects how much I value the training atmosphere. When I joined Stirling, I had access to some great players; there were world-ranked players on the team, so it was invaluable for me to see what these guys were doing day in, day out.

“We were in the top-flight for the university competitions, so we played the best teams in the country. It was good for me to see the level that these world-ranked players were playing at. As for the international events, I was away with GB for the World University Games with players such as Ryan Peniston and you can learn a lot from seeing what they do on and off the court and see where your level is in comparison.Scott_WorldUni.jpg

“During my time at Stirling I was coached by Euan McGinn of Tennis Scotland, who previously coached Colin Fleming, so he knows how to develop a tennis player. I’m grateful to him for putting that time in with me and hopefully it’s paying off now.”

Scott, from Edinburgh, has been climbing the doubles rankings in recent years and finished 2023 inside the world’s top 200. His recent ATP Challenger wins saw him reach a career-high ranking of 173 this month and he credits his recent success to his own self-belief and the decision he and Marcus Willis made to play together regularly.

“I’ve always felt I had the potential to be playing at the level I am now and, of course, I’ve improved, but I felt that I could play to a level beyond my ranking,” he said. “The main thing that changed was partnering up with Marcus - in doubles you have to find someone who is on the same path and trajectory as you and that was Marcus.

“We’ve played a lot of matches together the past couple of years. He was coming back onto the tour and I was ranked around 500/600 on the ATP when we played our first event in Madrid and won it - we went on a winning run from there and decided to maintain the partnership.

“We also get on very well off the court, which I think is important, especially at the Futures level when you’re sharing accommodation most of the time to keep costs down. It’s a little different now at Challengers, but we gel well together on and off the court, so it’s been fun.”

With the British grass-court season just around the corner, Scott is setting his sights on the upcoming ATP Challengers.

He said: “My goal is to be around 150 in the world by the time the grass Challengers come around and from there I want to progress towards the top 100. I know there are some things I need to do to improve, but that’s my goal.”

While life on the tour has its perks, Scott acknowledges there are many challenges and explained how he keeps himself in good spirits while on the road.

“Sometimes on paper it seems like a glamorous life, but it has its challenges; things as simple as living out of a suitcase for 35 weeks of the year, hustling to do laundry, finding spots to eat for reasonable prices.

“You obviously don’t have access to your regular coaching and training set-up, so at that point you need to be aware enough and self-critical enough to evaluate your own performance and see where you can improve. You have to bring a positive attitude to training and match courts every single day, because if you’re not willing to improve while you're on the road, then it’s very difficult to progress your ranking and you might see it shift the wrong way.

“It can be a lonely existence at times, but you need to keep your relationships healthy. Keep in contact with your friends and family, as it can be easy to forget that when there’s so much going on while you’re travelling. It’s nice to have those relationships with people at the tournament, but it’s important to nurture those relationships you have with people outside of tennis in your personal life.”

Though tennis is the key focus while travelling, players do sometimes have days off between tournaments, enabling them to take a step back from the court to disconnect, rest or train for the next event.

“I like a lot of things away from the court too,” he said. “I'm a season-ticket holder at Hearts so back home I like to go and watch them if I can. I’m generally quite active so back home or away I’ll try to get out with my friends and go play mini golf, go-karting or bowling. 

“Last week in Sarasota, Florida, we had some free time so managed to get a round of golf in which was a nice change up.”

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